City Hall

Empty Downtown Building Costing Taxpayers $18K Per Day

The City of San Diego entered into a lease to purchase agreement for an office building at 101 Ash Street in downtown in October 2016, but the building has been empty since at a cost says the city of $18,000 a day.

Estimates to get the building ready to house employees say it will cost $25,000,000 - more than five times the original estimate.

Council Member David Alvarez can see the building from the window of his office on the 10th floor of City Hall, and he is skeptical about moving forward on plans. “That’s why it is so disturbing,” he tells NBC7, “we were told in October 2016 with $5,000,000 that we're going to go into tenant improvements that we would be able to house 1,100 employees.”

But as it turns out at that $5,000,000, only 800 employees will be able to work in the building.

Other members of the City Council, including Mark Kersey, say his staff view the building as an investment - and that the estimate is that it will be worth $112,000,000 in 20 years. They consider the building an asset.

Wednesday the staff presented four options to the Infrastructure Committee for partial to full renovations. And the committee voted 3 to 1 to approve to keep the allocation for the 101 Ash Street building improvements in the budget. That allows city staff to move forward with putting out the bids for various renovations.

The action moves the discussion forward to the full Council so the full Council can review all the options and make a decision from there.

Councilmember Mark Kersey, Lorie Zapf, and Christopher Ward voted in support and David Alvarez voted against advancing the project to the full council.

A date will be scheduled sometime in mid-June for the next meeting relating to the next step for the property on Ash Street.

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